By Rick Armstrong
Kaneland went big, literally, early in the second half Friday to help change the momentum. Then, the Knights held on for a wild ride to the finish in a 33-30 win over Morris.
Junior quarterback Drew Davids second touchdown pass of the game to Zack Martinelli, from five yards out with 27 seconds remaining, gave the Knights the win on the sixth and final lead change of the game.
The kids a trooper, hes a warrior out there playing with a hurt hand, Morris coach Alan Thorson said of the 6-foot, 175-pound David, who sat out the previous weeks game and played this one with his right wrist and hand heavily taped.
He took some shots from the hard-hitting Redskin defense, especially 6-5, 250-pound Danny Friend, but kept getting up.
We had to pressure him and the times we didnt pressure him, he hurt us, Thorson said. I dont know if it was bad coverage or he made some great throws, either way, give Kaneland credit for a great win.
David completed 13 of 21 passes for 207 yards and three TDs. Davids first score came on 59-yarder to Martinelli late in the first quarter of what started as a defensive struggle in the battle of Northern Illinois Big 12 East unbeatens. David also found Dylan Nauert in the fourth quarter for a 13-yard score.
The first half was all defense, Thorson said. I think the offenses were kind of feeling each other out.
The Redskins went to the break with a 10-7 lead after Zach Cinnamon answered the first Martinelli score with a 3-yard run to cap a 56-yard drive.
Kaneland was driving for another score in the final minute of the second period but linebacker Nik Countryman tipped a David pass and Josh Lincoln grabbed it and went 79 yards to setup Fernando Del Toro for a 34-yard field for the lead.
Kanelands Matt Rodriguez had field goals of 41 and 38 yards in the second half but the Knight offense got ontrack when coach Tom Fedderly went heavy with two linemen playing up backs in a wildcat formation and Jesse Balluff taking a direct snap that led to a 53-yard scoring run to open the third quarter.
We put our noseguard, Jaumaureo Phillips, who is 340, at tackle and had Justin Diddell, who is 280 at one back and Joe Komel was the little guy back there at 275, Fedderly said. We thought it could get us going and establish some rhythm.
Thorson said his team was surprised by the move.
We saw them run wildcat with Balluff last week and practiced for it, but they didnt have the big guys in the backfield, so that was a new wrinkle, he said. They got one TD off it before we stopped it.
Cinnamon, who had thrown only 51 passes coming into the game, finished 7 of 13 for 131 yards and one score, a 16-yarder to Anthonee Monson.
Redskin wideout Jake Hogan had two receptions for 62 yards and set up a Reese Sobol 20-yard scoring run by returning a Kaneland kickoff 63 yards to the Knight 32. He had a 90-yard kickoff return for a score called back by a block in the back penalty in the first half.
Cinnamons 49-yard scoring run down the sideline with 1:58 remaining gave Morris a short-lived 30-27.
Our defense really set the tone for us because the offense came out slow, David said. They helped us out and got us back on track.
It wasnt wrapped up, though, until the final play of the game. After Kanelands final score, Morris reached the 50 when Cinnamon hauled in a 19-yard pass from Friend after throwing a lateral to the tight end.
The Redskins quarterback was sacked by Ryan Lawrence and Sam Bower as time ran out, however.
Theres one of two direction we can go with this, Thorson said. We can let it affect us in a negative way, which I know is not going to happen, or we can get angry and take it out on everyone we play in thw playoffs.
Knowing this group and their character like I do, thats whats gonna happen.